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The Outsider and the Age of Defeat, Part 2

The Outsider and the Age of Defeat, Part 2

Wilson reminds us that the inner-directed/outer-directed model is a construction that, according to Riesman, does not really exist, but is merely a type “based on a selection of certain historical problems.”1 No one is either one or the other, much like the labeling of left-brain/right-brain people; all are a combination of both. Wilson adds It may be true that many people spend their lives in a state of more or less contented other-direction, that others (rarer) have achieved a certain…

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The Outsider and The Age of Defeat, Part 1

The Outsider and The Age of Defeat, Part 1

The third book in Colin Wilson’s much acclaimed Outsider Cycle, The Age of Defeat, has recently been reissued by Aristeia Press. It was originally published in 1959. I’ve been anxious to read it and begin a new series writing about it. I had a lot of fun doing the The Outsider and Religion and the Rebel series last year. Hopefully, this one will work out equally well. So, let’s begin! With his first two books, Colin Wilson communicated very clearly…

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Colin Wilson on Rudolf Steiner: Postscript

Colin Wilson on Rudolf Steiner: Postscript

Even though Wilson did not provide a detailed explication of Steiner’s practical methodology of accessing the spiritual world, he does provide a ringing endorsement of Steiner’s contribution to Western thinking. First, it is Steiner’s view that the “I” of human beings is what distinguishes them from lower animals. Wilson states, We might compare a dog or a cat to a group of travelling musicians who wander through the streets playing more or less in unison; but man is an orchestra…

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Colin Wilson on Rudolf Steiner Part 2

Colin Wilson on Rudolf Steiner Part 2

At this point, I have read through chapter three of Wilson’s book. So far, aside from Thought, Inspiration, and Intuition, there has been no real mention of how Steiner believed we could cross the threshold and the enter the realm of Imagination. He has spent his time, so far, on a biographical sketch, which is certainly important. Wilson is tracing Steiner’s intellectual development. There was a brief description of Steiner attending the lectures of Franz Brentano. According to Wilson, the…

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Colin Wilson on Rudolf Steiner Part 1

Colin Wilson on Rudolf Steiner Part 1

I’ve had a copy of Colin Wilson’s little book on Rudolf Steiner sitting in one of my bookcases for over a year now, so I thought it might be a good time to blow off the dust and look inside. In his early works, Wilson didn’t really care for Steiner. He didn’t write anything about him ( that I know of ) until the 1980s, long after he had developed his “New Existentialism.” He does admit finding him “an interesting…

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The Failure of Romanticism

The Failure of Romanticism

Colin Wilson, whom I have written much about on this blog, was an existentialist philosopher, but not in the sense of a Sartre or Camus. His existentialism, as he says, “covers a broader field than what Kierkegaard or Heidegger or Sartre means by it; my existentialism is closer to Goethe’s idea of Bildung.” 1 The literary climate of the existentialist is the “Bildungsroman,” the so-called coming-of-age novel or play, where the protagonist’s psychological and moral development is the focus. Dostoevsky’s…

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Consciousness and Water

Consciousness and Water

  …Go visit the Prairies in June, when for scores on scores of miles you wade knee-deep among Tiger-lilies—what is the one charm wanting?—Water—there is not a drop of water there! Were Niagara but a cataract of sand, would you travel your thousand miles to see it? Why did the poor poet of Tennessee, upon suddenly receiving two handfuls of silver, deliberate whether to buy him a coat, which he sadly needed, or invest his money in a pedestrian trip…

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Thus Spoke Zarathustra: The Tree on the Mountainside, Part 1

Thus Spoke Zarathustra: The Tree on the Mountainside, Part 1

Zarathustra’s eyes had discerned that a young man avoided him. As he walked one evening alone through the mountains surrounding the town, which is called The Motley Cow, behold, there while walking he found this young man leaning against a tree, gazing wearily into the valley.1 This section of Thus Spoke Zarathustra, called On the Tree on the Mountain, speaks primarily to the ones Colin Wilson calls “outsiders.” It speaks to those lonely souls who are obsessed with striving, with…

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The Outsider’s Guide to the Philosophy of Whitehead, Part 4

The Outsider’s Guide to the Philosophy of Whitehead, Part 4

Imagination is the power of prehension; without it, man would be an imbecile, without memory, without forethought, without power of interpreting what he sees and feels. The higher the form of life, the greater its power of prehension; and in man, prehension becomes a conscious faculty, which can be labelled imagination.1 I can’t tear myself away from this quote from Colin Wilson! It is so fertile, so alive with meaning, so full of power in the Nietzschean sense that I…

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The Outsider’s Guide to the Philosophy of Whitehead, Part 3

The Outsider’s Guide to the Philosophy of Whitehead, Part 3

In 2007, Colin Wilson wrote an article for Philosophy Now called, Whitehead as Existentialist. According to Wilson, Alfred North Whitehead was an existentialist. Even if his philosophy is not blatantly existentialist, like Nietzsche’s or Kierkegaard’s, I can understand why Wilson would think so, although what we usually think of as an existentialist is someone like Sartre or Camus, the most famous existentialists. The problem is, however, Sartre and Camus ended up believing that one is helpless against the chaos of…

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